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This is the best book EVER!!! I think it's going to be one of my top ten favorite lifetime reads. I'm not a big historical fiction fan. Who would have ever thought I'd fall in love with a book written about Hitler Germany? This is an amazing, powerful book. It's told in a third person, omniscient narration, by DEATH! Yes, Death is the one who tells this heartbreaking tale of one Lisiel Merminger of Himmel Street. Having Death narrate the book gives readers the perfect perspective. Death actually was traumatized by humans. He did his job, but it wasn't an easy one, especially when wars were killing off humans by the thousands. Death also used actual colors to describe his emotions and feelings, a rich addition to the story. It added another layer of understanding.
This story definitely fits into a strong character-driven plot category. What I loved so much about this book were the characters. These people really made me feel something, each and every one of them. They were all so kind-hearted and selfless. It's unusual a book comes out and has so many three dimensional, memorable characters.
Liesel Merminger, AKA "the book thief," melted my heart. At such a young age she'd already witnessed death, suffered so much pain. Initially, she's timid, somewhat fearful, but slowly morphs into a fierce and fearless heroine by the end of the book. I adored the interactions with her friend Rudy Stiener from down the street. Talk about Girl Power! Liesel was our gal, a determined girl, a tomboy, one who doesn't stand down to a challenge, even if the challenger is a boy.
Rudy, on the other hand, fit the mold for the perfect "boy down the street." His heart, the biggest heart of all. The crush he had on Liesel, evident and so touching from the very beginning, was so beautiful. I think every young girl deserves to experience the love of a boy like Rudy. He would do anything for Liesel, always by her side, even if it meant doing extraordinary feats, like jumping into frigidly cold rivers to rescue books! Definitely a knight in shinning armor, caring for everyone, even his enemies. A selfless character, he risked being beaten just so the Jews could have bread.
Then, there's Papa, Liesel's rock. In the beginning, he recused her every night from her nightmares, taught her to read, and made her feel like the best daughter a man could ever wish for. I loved how he breathed life into his accordion, how he always knew the right thing to say in any circumstance. He loved everyone, treated all people fairly and with respect. He was a great man; we need more people in the world like Hans Huberman. Then and only then would the world be a much better place.
There are so many other special characters, too. But I only have time to highlight one more: Mama (Rosa Huberman). She took Liesel in as her foster daughter and ended up treating her like her own. With a hard exterior shell, Mama never quite knows how to show her true feelings and LOVES to yell and curse. So, initially she comes off as cruel. However, after reading the story, we all know this woman really did care. Underneath all the rough exterior she really did have a heart of GOLD.
This story was so amazingly good, I was almost depressed when I turned the last page. I didn't want to leave these heroic people. The characters were so well written they almost felt like kin. I will miss the world, the people and the wonderful story. It's a story I gained insight from. Warning, it doesn't have a very happy ending, but I still highly recommend this book to any and all readers. I can't imagine a person who wouldn't appreciate this fabulous story. If a story can make me feel, evoke emotions, and make me care, then I feel like it's a great book, and this one definitely exceeds that criteria.
This book did get made into a movie. Regrettably, the movie didn't hold a candle to the book. It was VERY disappointing. The movie to book translation lost so much emotion and power. I would recommend reading the book and skipping the movie.